Originally created 10/12/03

Drulia back to work after preseason loss



When he looks at the big picture, Augusta Lynx coach Stan Druliaknows an 0-2 preseason doesn't mean a whole lot.

But in the wake of Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators in the preseason finale at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, the first-year coach knows there is still much work to be done.

"I won't sleep tonight," said Drulia, who after the game planned a late-night work session with assistant coach Chuck Weber to break down the videotape of Saturday's game.

"It's not the fact that we lost the game that bothers me," Drulia said. "We actually learned a lot about our hockey team tonight. We have an idea now what we need to do to get better."

With the Lynx set to open the ECHL season Friday night at home against the Florida Everblades, Drulia said Saturday that several changes are imminent to help improve the club.

"Tonight, we found out what we need to make us a successful hockey team," Drulia said.

Drulia said more help could be coming from the parent Florida Panthers in the next few days. In the meantime, he said he will continue to look for available free agents as well as entertain trade offers to upgrade the team, especially at forward.

The Lynx took a 2-0 lead Saturday on goals by Louis Goulet and Todd Bennett before Gwinnett came back to score three unanswered goals to take a 3-2 lead.

Todd Nowicki pulled the Lynx even at 3 with a power-play goal late in the second period, but the Gladiators took control in the third, scoring three goals in 10 minutes on veteran goalie Jason Saal.

LETTER MEN: Choosing a captain and assistants in the preseason was a fairly easy decision for Drulia. He tabbed defenseman Rob Stanfield as captain and named defenseman Martin Lapointe and enforcer Ken Tasker assistants.

Stanfield is a fifth-year pro who captained Laredo in the Central Hockey League last season, and Lapointe has been one of Augusta's best defensemen the past three seasons.

As for Tasker, well, Drulia said he also was a perfect choice.

Little did the coach know how excited Tasker would be when he was given an 'A' on his jersey.

"You should have seen the smile on his face when we told him," Drulia said of Tasker, a fifth-year pro who never has been a captain or assistant at any level.

Drulia said he won't name a permanent captain and assistants until later this week, but chances are things will remain status quo.

KOLLAR WINS: The battle for the backup goaltending spot went to third-year pro Andy Kollar, who beat out rookie B.J. Strongman for the job.

Strongman was released Saturday and is being recruited by Flint of the United Hockey League, which opens its training camp this week. Drulia said both Kollar and Strongman played "phenomenally well" in Friday's 3-2 preseason loss at Gwinnett.

ONE TIMERS: Defenseman Wes Swinson rolled into Augusta around 5:30 p.m. Saturday - too late to suit up and play in Saturday's preseason finale against Gwinnett. He did show up at the civic center during the game and watched from the stands. ... Rookie forward Yuriy Mikhalov was released before Saturday's game and is headed to play for Orlando of the WHA2. ... The Lynx added defenseman Shawn Weiman, a rookie out of Providence College, to the roster on Saturday. Weiman was in camp with the parent San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on a tryout and is, Drulia said "very much a prospect with Florida." With the addition of Swinson and Weiman, Drulia will probably make two cuts on the blueline today. ... Left winger Josh Bennett was a scratch Saturday with what Drulia classified only as a "nagging injury." He is expected to be OK to practice next week. ... After seven straight days on the ice, the players were given the day off today, and will attend a season-ticket holders' party today at the Sheraton Augusta.